A small business owner says she is “steamed” that a planned Nova Scotia Power maintenance outage will leave her business in the dark for four workdays.
On Outram and Esplanade Streets in Truro, a planned outage for system upgrading is set to last from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday.
Sarah Coleman says her store Calling Corner New Age Boutique is located right on the corner of the two streets.
It will be one of three business among 12 customers hit with the seven-hour outages for four-straight days.
“This is ludicrous. There’s no way that should be a four-day event,” said Coleman.
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Coleman has shut down her store for Monday, as she initially thought the outage would last just the one day.
She said she was not informed of the four-day-long outages by Nova Scotia Power, but found out from a Facebook post made by another business owner in the area.
Calling for communication, empathy
Coleman said that on March 8, one of her staff texted her that Nova Scotia Power came in and informed them that power would be out on Monday.
When receiving the information, Coleman contacted customer support, who she said confirmed they saw a planned outage for Monday — nothing else.
Notice of the outages on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday came as a shock.
“Monday would have been an inconvenience,” Coleman said. “The majority of the week… takes away our entire staff’s paychecks. This is my only form of livelihood at the moment.
“There was no regard that I could see… I don’t know, It just didn’t seem like they cared.”
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Nova Scotia Power spokesperson Jacqueline Foster said in an email statement their team has been working with the town of Truro on the planned outage.
“This is for a capital project on Outram Street where we are rebuilding the power line. The planned outage is needed so our crews can complete the work safely,” Foster wrote.
“We appreciate outages are inconvenient for customers even when they’re planned. We have done as much work ahead of time as possible, including digging holes, to keep these outages as short as possible.”
She added the maintenance is to improve power reliability in the area, and that automated phone calls were issues to the customers that will be impacted.
Coleman did not receive that phone call, and had to make last-minute adjustments to her business.
Her store is usually open 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on workdays, but this week it’ll be closed on Monday, and open 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. She estimates the day-time closure will mean a loss of up to $2,000 for the week.
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“I got to find hours for my staff,” she said.
Coleman said business should have been informed sooner, with details and explanations.
“I want more clear-cut communication, meaning not the week before. If something like this comes up, I expect them to care about the businesses.“
She also said compensation should’ve been part of the plan, “especially if they’re asking people to do stuff like buy generators.”
Another hit to small businesses
Crystal Mills, owner of fitness centre Simply for Life Truro, feared her businesses would be impacted by the outages as well after her property manager received a notice from Nova Scotia Power.
“When I got the email, I honestly just felt kind of stunned. I had to read it multiple times for one to fully understand like, is this for real?,” Mills said.
Having several commercial refrigerators and product that could spoil, she was relieved to learn her business was in the clear on Sunday afternoon.
“Even if we’re not impacted, others are going to be impacted,” Mills said.
“We, as businesses, have been through so much over the last three years, not to mention the recent hurricane (when) we lost power for multiple days,” Mills said. “How do we work through this?”
She echoed that communication should have been more clear.
“We’ve just been chatting, supporting each other, just trying to figure out… and we just have a big question mark.”
A list of planned Nova Scotia Power outages is available on the company’s website.
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